Woody climbers, rarely erect shrubs (Decaisnea). Monoecious, rarely dioecious. Stems climbing or twining (erect in Decaisnea); wood with broad medullary rays. Winter buds large; outer scales 2 to numerous; scales subtending leaves persistent, scaly. Stipules usually absent (present and very small in Sinofranchetia). Leaves alternate, palmate or 3-foliolate, rarely pinnate (Decaisnea). Petiole and petiolules swollen at both ends, articulate. Flowers functionally unisexual by reduction or abortion, actinomorphic. Sepals 6 (usually 3 in Akebia), petaloid, in 2 whorls, imbricate or outer 3 valvate. Petals 6, nectariferous, much smaller than sepals or absent. Male flowers: stamens free or ± connate into a tube; anthers 2-celled, extrorsely dehiscent by longitudinal slit; connective apical appendage hornlike or apiculate, sometimes unappendaged. Pistillodes 3--6(--9), small, filiform. Female flowers: staminodes 6. Carpels 3(--9) or numerous (Sargentodoxa), superior, free; ovules numerous, orthotropous or anatropous, in 2 to several longitudinal rows on laminar placenta, rarely 1, pendulous, hemitropous to subanatropous (Sargentodoxa). Stigma conspicuous, sessile or subsessile. Fruit fleshy follicles or baccate, indehiscent or dehiscent along abaxial suture. Seeds numerous, rarely solitary; seed coat crustaceous; endosperm copious; embryo small, straight.
Nine genera and ca. 50 species: mainly in E Asia, two monotypic genera in S America; seven genera (two endemic) and 37 species (25 endemic) in China.
Chen Te-chao. 2001. Lardizabalaceae. In: Ying Tsun-shen, ed., Fl. Reipubl. Popularis Sin. 29: 1–50.